DECEASED ESTATES – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- Q: What is a deceased estate?
A: A person who dies may leave behind assets (such as a house or cash) and liabilities (such as the balance of a home loan or credit card debt). The total value of an individual’s assets and liabilities make up the deceased estate.The estate must then be administered and distributed in terms of the deceased’s will or, in the absence of a valid will, in terms of the Intestate Succession Act.There is a procedure that must be followed to administer a deceased estate which is called “winding up the estate” and it is prescribed by the Administration of Estates Act.
Q: Where must an estate be reported?
A: The death must be reported to the nearest office of the Master of the High Court or Magistrate’s Court in whose area the deceased was living before his or her death.
Q: When can I report the estate at the Magistrate’s Court?
A: The Magistrates Court service points will only have jurisdiction in the following circumstances:
- The deceased did not leave a valid will (died intestate) and;
- The value of the estate (or the best estimate value thereof) is not more than R100 000; and
- The estate is not insolvent (the liabilities do not exceed the assets), and
- All the beneficiaries are majors or any one or more of the beneficiaries is a minor and is assisted by his or her legal guardian and the cash assets in the estate are worth R20 000 or less.
Q: Who must report the estate?
A: The death is to be reported by any person having control or possession of any property or documents that is or intends to be a will of the deceased. The estate is reported by lodging a completed death notice and other reporting documents with the Master which may be obtained from any Office of the Master of the High Court, Magistrate’s Court or on www.justice.gov.za.
Q: How do I report an estate?
A: Depending on the value of the estate and the type of appointment required, the reporting documents will differ slightly. If the value of the estate exceeds R250 000, letters of executorship must be issued and the full process prescribed by the Administration of Estates Act must be followed. If the value of the estate is less than R250 000, the Master may dispense with letters of executorship, and issue letters of authority in terms of section 18(3) of Administration of Estates Act. The winding up of the estate then follows a more simple process.
Q: The Estate is less than R250 000. What does this mean?
A: You need to fill out some forms and take them to the Master of the High Court, accompanied by an inventory of the estate. The executor will then receive a Letter of Authority from the Master, giving him/her the authority to distribute the assets from the estate as per the will of the deceased (or in terms of intestate succession where there is no will).
The following reporting documents are required (these forms are available online at www.justice.gov.za/master/forms.html):
- Completed death notice (form J294)
- Original or certified copy of the death certificate
- Original or certified copy of a marriage certificate (if applicable)
- All original wills or documents intended as such (if any)
- Next-of-kin affidavit if the deceased did not leave a valid will (form J192)
- Completed inventory form (form J243)
- List of creditors of deceased (if applicable)
- Nominations by the heirs for the appointment of a Master’s representative in the case of an intestate estate or where no executor has been nominated in the will or the nominated executor declines the appointment.
- Undertaking and acceptance of Master’s directions (form J155)
Declaration confirming that the estate has not already been reported to another Master’s Office or Magistrates Court.
- Q: There is no will. What now?
A: This is an intestate estate which means that the law determines who should inherit the estate. Generally, only spouses and blood relatives inherit under intestate succession laws; unmarried partners, friends, and charities get nothing. If the deceased was married, the surviving spouse usually gets the largest share. If there are no children, the surviving spouse often receives all the property. More distant relatives inherit only if there is no surviving spouse and if there are no children. In the rare event that no relatives can be found, the state takes the assets.
Q: What is an Executor?
A: The heirs must agree on who they want to appoint as executor which must be presented to the Master of the High Court along with an application by the selected Executor for this appointment. It is up to the Master to determine whether the requested person will be appointed Executor. If there are minor children involved, the process becomes more complicated.
Q: Who can I contact if I don’t know what to do?
A: There are Masters’ Office Legal Clinics. ProBono.Org also facilitates weekly legal clinics at the Masters’ Offices in Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg to assist individuals or families with legal issues related to estates valued at less than R250 000.
The clinics are staffed by volunteer attorneys who attend to clients on a rotational basis. The types of matters seen include: advising on the procedure to follow when winding up deceased estates, the validity of wills, invalid letters of authority, invalid transfers of immovable property, incorrect or fraudulent estate transfers, evictions, maintenance, and removal of executors.
If a matter requires further work, the attorney at the clinic takes the matter back to his or her firm, or refers the matter back to ProBono.Org to identify a law firm to take it on.
- The Johannesburg Master’s Office Legal Clinic runs every Wednesday from 09h00 – 13h00
- The Durban Master’s Office Legal Clinic runs every Thursday from 09h00 – 12h00
You can contact the Cape Town offices of ProBono.Org on 087 806 6070/1/2 and they will happily assist.
- Q: My parent/spouse was a Clicks employee and has died. Does he/she have a benefit?
A: The following employees qualified as ESOP beneficiaries:
- All full-time permanent employees who were employed by the Group on 2 February 2011 who work a 40 hour week.
- All new full time permanent employees employed by The Group between the period 2 February 2011 and 2 February 2015.
- If an individual met the above criteria they would have received an ESOP share allocation.
If you are unsure whether your family member met the above criteria, please send an e-mail to email@example.com. We will require the Name, Surname, ID Number of the deceased.
Q: When will this benefit pay out?
A: The ESOP scheme comes to an end on 1 February 2018. The gain on 50% of the shares become payable in 2018 and the balance is payable in 2019.
Q: Who will it be paid to?
A: In the case of an estate with a value of less than R250 000, it will be paid to the estate bank account opened by the Master’s Representative. You will need to ensure that the amount due to the estate is clearly reflected on the Letters of Authority. For example: “Clicks share benefit: R50 000”. In the case of an estate with a value of more than R250 000, it will be paid to the estate bank count opened by the Executor.
Q: What documentation will need to be submitted to Clicks?
A: A certified copy of the Letters of Executorship (where an Executor has been appointed) or a certified copy of the Letters of Authority (where a Master’s Representative has been appointed). FICA documents for the estate late banking account (a cancelled blank cheque or a certified copy of the bank statement, certified copy of the Executor or Master Representative’s ID and a certified copy of the Executor or Master’s Representative proof of address).
Q: By when must this documentation be submitted to Clicks?
A: As soon as possible and prior to February 2018 but no later than February 2019.